Creating a Culture of Flexibility
As employers increasingly focus on results rather than time spent at the office, workplace flexibility is replacing the one-size-fits-all, 9-to-5 way of working. Family and personal concerns can be major sources of stress. In professional service firms, for example, studies show that well over half of employees can expect to experience some kind of work-family stress in a three-month time period. For these reasons, creating a culture of flexibility is critical to enable people to succeed both personally and professionally.
Survey Finds Disconnect Between Employers and Employees On Work-Life Balance
While 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, 45% of employees disagree.
WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals, and CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, today announced the results of a study entitled, “Workplace Flexibility Study.”
Following a national survey of 1087 professionals, both employed and unemployed, in addition to 116 HR professionals, 67% of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet almost half (45%) of employees (35% of job seekers) feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities. One in five employees surveyed spent over 20 hours working outside of the office on their personal time per week – a clear indicator of suboptimal work-life balance.
“Technology has expanded the 9-to-5 workday into the 24/7 workday, which has made it extremely difficult for employees to have personal time. Companies are being forced to react to this work life dilemma by investing more in their programs in 2015. In the future, every company will have a flexibility program and those that don’t will lose the battle for the top talent.”
– Dan Schawbel, Founder of WorkplaceTrends.com and New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself
Technology may be to blame for the amount of work performed outside of the office: The survey found that the majority of workers–65% of employees (67% of job seekers) say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office, 9% by email (7% for job seekers at their previous job), 23% by phone (27% for job seekers) and 33% by email and phone (34% for job seekers). From the HR perspective, 64% expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time, 18% by email, 3% by phone and 26% by both email and phone.
Taking work home after office hours may be the norm, but formal workplace flexibility programs–wherein employees have the option to periodically work from home without coming into the office–seem to be benefiting both employees and employers. 87% of HR leaders believe that workplace flexibility programs lead to employee satisfaction, while nearly 7 out of 10 HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting and retention tool.
The study exposed employee and employer preferences on issues of work-life balance, flex programs, and benefits.
Additional highlights from the report include:
Companies are investing more in work flexibility programs in 2015. Last year, of the companies that knew how much they invested in their work-life benefits programs, 60% spent under $20,000 and 29% spent more than $40,000. 53% of these companies plan to invest more in their programs in 2015. The biggest concern for employers who establish flexibility programs is potential employee abuse of the system (42%) , followed by it not being part of their culture (40%) and concerns about employee fairness (34%).
Workplace flexibility is more important to employees than employers think. 50% of employers ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe their employees desire, compared to 75% of employees (and 74% of those unemployed) who ranked it as their top benefit. Employees, job seekers and HR professionals agree that paid and unpaid time off is most important to employees (72% of HR vs. 79% of employees and 74% of job seekers). Both employees (61%) and job seekers (66%) ranked financial support, such as tuition assistance, as being most important after time off.
Employers are seeing benefits from their flexibility programs. The top benefits organizations saw in their work flex programs were improved employee satisfaction (87%), increased productivity (71%), and that they retained current talent (65%). 69% use their programs as a recruiting tool and 54% said that their programs positively impacted their recruiting.
Boomers don’t benefit from their flexibility program as much as younger generations. 62% said that the demographic that benefits most is Gen X compared to 35% of Gen Y and only 3% of boomers.
Employees care most about compensation yet employers think otherwise. 37% of employers said that the type of work that employees do is most important to them, compared to the money they make (24%). On the other hand, 31% of employees (24% of job seekers) said that the money they make is most important followed by the type of the work they do (22% of employees and 23% of job seekers).
There is a large opportunity for employers to strengthen their employment brand by offering outplacement and career transition assistance to their employees. 71% of job seekers answered that they were likely to choose a company that offered outplacement (career coaching and transition services for laid-off employees) over a company that did not if all else (salary, role, etc.) was equal. As a benefit, outplacement assistance was more important to potential employees than health and wellness benefits, community volunteer initiatives, tuition assistance, or culture change initiatives such as team building. Outplacement trailed only workplace flexibility and time off for jobseekers evaluating employer benefits. Approximately one-third (34%) of the organizations surveyed with 500+ employees currently offer outplacement assistance to it’s laid-off employees.
“Companies need to remember that organizations, ultimately, are made up of people. HR leaders do a great job of putting the ‘human’ in human capital, but it is clear that more can be done to create a dialogue with employees to understand their needs and wants from a flexibility and work-life balance perspective.”
– Robin D. Richards, CEO, CareerArc
“We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are starting to adopt this way of working. What it also tells us is that more businesses need to be able to offer collaboration tools – to enable that human contact that people crave – or risk losing out to those businesses who are able to offer flexibility and have access to talent and retain talent as a result.”
– Mary McDowell, CEO, Polycom
The study uncovered how collaborative technologies have made employees more empathetic and build better co-worker relationships, despite the remote working stigma of laziness and isolation.
Nearly all (98%) of employees said that collaborative technologies make it easier to get to know, or build relationships, with co-workers and nearly half said that they know colleagues more personally thanks to video conferencing. The study also revealed that an employee’s reliance on technology, especially video conferencing, actually drives them to pick up the phone more regularly. In addition, with the acceleration of corporate flexibility programs, and the desire for remote work situations, two-thirds said their favorite colleagues work in a different location.
Additional highlights from the report include:
Flexible working is on the rise. Nearly 3 out of every 4 employees say their company offers flexible working and 32% said they regularly work remotely. An entire 79% of employees said they work with at least one person who isn’t based in the same office as them. When it comes to their preferred remote work location, 40% said home office, 24% said personal office and 11% said open plan office. The top drivers of remote work location preference are: helps them get in the right frame of mind, allows them to focus and inspires their creativity.
Technology powers the global remote workforce. 95% of those surveyed use collaboration technology to connect with co-workers and over a third use it multiple times a day. Also in the study, 90% said collaboration technologies are for improving productivity between teams in different locations.
Remote working has benefits and challenges. Employees who work remotely benefit from control over their work life balance (70%), more productivity (63%) and the ability to care for their children (38%). Most remote workers (62%) fear that other employees don’t think they are working as hard as them. Remote workers believe that they can overcome this fear by having their company invest more in collaborative technology and have clearer policies for flexible working.
“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about.”
– Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace
WorkplaceTrends.com is a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals. We have a large database of research covering all aspects of HR, from recruiting to employee benefits to training and development. Through our primary research studies, and collection of secondary surveys, we are following the most important trends and then sharing them with our member companies as they happen. Our corporate members have access to a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, with real actionable advice. Our goal is to help our members prepare for the future of work, today.
CareerArc is the leading HR technology company helping business leaders recruit and transition the modern workforce. Our social recruiting solution—TweetMyJobs—and our modern outplacement solution—CareerBeam—help thousands of organizations, including many of the Fortune 500, solve critical business issues with 21st century tools and technology. By leveraging the cloud, running on world-class infrastructure, and combining web, mobile and social media applications, we help companies gain a competitive edge in recruitment, employment branding, and benefits.
Polycom helps organizations unleash the power of human collaboration. More than 400,000 companies and institutions worldwide defy distance with secure video, voice and content solutions from Polycom to increase productivity, speed time to market, provide better customer service, expand education and save lives. Polycom and its global partner ecosystem provide flexible collaboration solutions for any environment that delivers the best user experience, the broadest multi-vendor interoperability and unmatched investment protection. Visit www.polycom.co.uk or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or the Polycom blog, to learn more.
About Future Workplace
Future Workplace is an HR executive network and research firm on the future of learning and working. The firm operates the Future Workplace Network, a consortium of Fortune 1000 global member organizations who use Future Workplace research and insights to future proof their learning and talent strategies.” Visit http://www.futureworkplace.com